French prisoners Ride Tour de France

A Week is a Long Time in..

Peparing for the Tour de FranceQ.  In What?

  • In prison – yes obviously
  • In politics – yes
  • In a relationship – well yes, especially the past week for me
  • In Between News Items….

Yes! That’s the one!

Last week it was announced to the world that 196 convicted French prisoners are going to cycle this years Tour de France route.  See the Reuters News item here which originally reported the story: What could possibly go wrong?

It’s an enlightened bit of prisoner rehabititation.  The 196 inmates plus 124 obviously fit guards are doing the 17 stages, stopping in towns each night that all have a prison, but staying in hotels. 

 Human rights activists have described French prisons as dirty, overcrowded and dilapidated. As of April 1, the jails held 63,351 inmates, while there is officially space for 51,000.  With as many as four or five inmates per cell, it has become difficult to organise prison visits and maintain adequate levels of hygiene, unions have said.Now contrast this with the report last month about the shocking state of French jails (Prison guards’ strike hits packed French jails). 

In fact, there is no contrast.  It’s the French guards who are protesting about the poor state of things, with five to a cell etc.

Taken in this context, the cycle ride does not sound so strange now, does it?

Today the Ride Sets Off

Penal Tour de France pedals offMany news organisations have reported the start of the run today.  They are all using the same copy, many using the same images as well.

Penal Tour de France pedals offThey all report that 194 prisoners are doing the ride compared to the fact that they all reported that 196 were going to do it last week.

So what happened to the 2 men? !!

Did they, as all the news outlets so humourously remarked, go on a “breakaway sprint” which “are obviously not allowed”?  Or maybe they feared they’d have to cycle through Mulhouse which has this interesting cycle lane to negotiate.

Keeping cycle lanes clear of parked cars is a problem the world over. This design from Mulhouse in France provides a self enforcing solution; yellow bollards have proved to be much more effective than yellow lines at deterring illegal parking. Picture from Warrington Cycle Campaign

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